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'Iron Lady' holds firm to take European gold at swimming championship

BERLIN -- Katinka Hosszu and Velimir Stjepanovic were the first individual winners on the opening night at the European Swimming Championships in Berlin.

Hosszu won the 400 meters individual medley, and for much of the race was well inside world-record pace, after Stjepanovic had claimed the first title in the pool in the 400m freestyle.

France set a new championship record in the men's 4x100m freestyle while Sweden were upgraded to gold in the women's equivalent after Denmark's disqualification while four championship records were set in the evening session.

The meet is being held at the Europa-park sports complex in the German capital.

Not in one of the two permanent 50m pools but instead a temporary, 10-lane pool has been installed in the velodrome.

Hosszu had set a championship record in the heats and the self-styled 'Iron Lady' returned in the evening, victory never in doubt as she led from start to finish, winning in a championship record of 4:31.03, 2.10 ahead of Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia with Great Britain's Aimee Willmott in third.

The Hungarian turned 2.16secs inside world-record pace with 100m to go but she finished 2.60secs outside Ye Shiwen's mark.

The swim underlined the other-worldly nature of the record set by the Chinese swimmer at the London Olympics in 2012 where her final 100m was faster than five of those in the men's equivalent.

“I just really wanted to swim my best time, that was my main goal going into the 400IM,” smiled Hozzsu who will take on 10 events in total.

It is hard to see how any significant inroads can be made into Ye's world record given the nature of the last 100m.

Hosszu though will continue to focus on her own race.

“Anything can happen,” she said. “I've been working on my 400IM. I swim a different race to Ye so hopefully I can work on my last 100 and get better at it.”

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